The extreme food shortages and economic impacts of COVID-19, combined with the severe climate-induced drought in southern Madagascar, have rendered over 1.14 million people acutely food insecure. Women and children face heightened vulnerability to hunger, contributing to life-threatening surges in the incidence of malnutrition. Since February 2021, SEED's Emergency Food Distribution Programme has been working to improve the immediate health and long-term resilience of food insecure communities.
Despite the 98% recovery rate for children diagnosed with acute malnutrition in Round I, the need continues to increase. Food insecurity is escalating in southern Madagascar, particularly as the country approaches the "lean season", the period between planting and harvesting. Soaring food prices due to food shortages have increased malnutrition rates drastically, with a recent estimate of clinic admissions for severe acute malnutrition reaching four times the average rate of the past 5 years.
Since in February 2021, SEED has partnered with local health centres to administer ready-to-use therapeutic food and distribute parcels of unprepared food (rice, beans, oil) across 41 villages, with an estimated population of 70,000 people. With the support of community health workers trained by SEED, malnutrition recovery is monitored, whilst targeted nutrition education sessions are delivered to families.
The Emergency Food Distribution Programme alleviates the short-term pressures of food insecurity and grows the capacity for healthcare providers to identify and treat children with acute malnutrition - a leading cause of 50% of childhood deaths. The programme mitigates a plethora of health issues that can result from unaddressed malnourishment in children under five, and aims to continue seeking long-term solutions to guarantee food security and resilience in the face of climate change.